The Colorado Trail – Part 1

I did the first ~320 miles of the CT alone. I tried to write in my trail journal every night, and I am bitterly disappointed that I didn’t keep it up once Bill joined me for the last 11 days. I thought I would remember enough, but that is simply not true. For anyone wanting to do a through hike – please keep a daily record! In no time, the details will fade and you’ll wish you had it to read through again.

Day 1, 6/24: Indian Creek trail head to Bear Creek. ~9.2 miles, 1000′ gain

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“Through-hikers say the first day is the hardest. I hope that’s true, but overall today wasn’t really that bad. I arrived at the Indian Creek TH and saw a sign mentioning the CO Trail and headed out about 12:30. One guy got dropped off at the same time and followed me. I went about 2 miles but wasn’t seeing what I was supposed to be, according to the sort of vague directions I found online (this is not the normal trail head, Waterton Canyon was closed due to flooding). The guy caught up to me, I looked at the map again, and we talked it over and decided that was the wrong trail – we were on the east leg of Trail 800 rather than west. On the way back, I ran into another guy, Max, who had made the same mistake. We retraced our steps and got onto the correct trail, then he went on ahead. The other guy caught up to me and we chatted a bit – he had done the AT before, but had since gained fifty pounds and started smoking again, so he is here trying to fix those problems.

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I went ahead and eventually met up with the CT. Less than a mile later, I found a nice campsite near Bear Creek. I got my tent set up and started dinner, but unfortunately it started raining. It has been coming down now for about an hour. Not pouring, but steady, and enough to make it very unpleasant to be outside. I quickly ate my meal and have been holed up in the tent – I hope it stops soon so I can clean up and hang my food bag. I was lucky to find a spot under a tree for the tent, so I really hope I don’t get wet. That is one of the only things that could ruin this trip for me and make me want to quit (editor’s note: haha).”

“It did stop after  nearly two hours. Yay! I successfully used the Jetboil to make dinner and tea and had some chocolate. I hung the bear bag, I hope I did a good enough job. I drank my entire 100oz. Camelbak bladder today, so good thing water is so plentiful. It was definitely a tough day for my neck and shoulders, but I feel confident that I can continue.”

Day 2, 6/25: Bear Creek to Segment 2 mile 5.2. ~13.3 miles, 3100′ gain

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“OK, now I’m hoping that the second day will be the hardest because today sucked. I did not sleep well because of wind and rain hitting the tent, but that was just the beginning. I discovered in the morning that my water filter is kind of a pain in the ass to use – very slow and takes two hands. After dealing with inconvenient shit all morning, I started a relentless 500ft climb out of Bear Creek. Most of the rest of Segment 1 was OK, with some pleasant forest hiking. I descended to the Platte River crossing, filled my water, and headed up the other side of the valley. This was the end of the pleasant hiking – going through the Buffalo Creek burn scar was awful. It was close to 90 degrees all day and this area offered no shade. I got a pretty bad sunburn on my shoulders despite using sunscreen.

By far the worst part of today, though, was the fucking bugs. Flies – constantly. No amount of bug spray would keep them off me. Even if they didn’t land on me, they would circle my head, driving me crazy. God forbid I sit down to rest or eat – they were all over me. I almost wish I had brought music to drown out the incessant buzzing. Also, there are these caterpillar worm things everywhere. They put their fucking strands of silk or whatever all across the trail. Even though I tried to be careful, I ended up with spider web-like shit and the worm things all over me. Something was constantly tickling me somewhere – a fly, or the worms or their silk shit. Meanwhile the flies kept buzzing around my head – today was probably the closest to madness I’ve ever been. I drank almost 5 liters of water today due to the heat, sun, and elevation gain of 3100 feet. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and I can make it 5-6 more miles with my small amount of water remaining.”

Day 3, 6/26: Segment 2 mile 5.2 to FS Road 550. ~18 miles, 2500′ gain

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“I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of this. Today was a good day. The morning went smoothly, and I made a trail friend. He came upon my campsite just as I was leaving and we hiked the rest of Seg 2 and part of 3 together. The rest of 2 wasn’t great – more burn scar so no shade and hot, even at 9am. I did run out of water, but only about 1/2 a mile from the emergency faucet at the fire station. The miles went by pretty fast hiking with Tony, a nutrition and fitness coach from Dallas. We had plenty to talk about. I wore different sock liners today, and I’m not sure if they are to blame, but I got a huge blister on my pinkie toe today. It almost made the toe double in size! I treated it and decided to push 4 extra miles today so as to camp near a stream. Tony took a break about 4 miles into Segment 3, and said he would catch up, but after waiting a while I continued. I hope I see him again. I decided to do 18 miles today since tomorrow I will have a steep ascent into the Lost Creek Wilderness. The last two miles were pretty difficult, but not as bad as yesterday. Unfortunately the good campsites here are taken, and there are a few guys across the creek being really loud. I hope they stop, but at least I can try to sleep in a little tomorrow.”

Day 4, 6/27: FS Road 550 to Segment 4 mile 9. ~9 miles, 2500′ gain

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“Today was the best day yet. I packed up camp at a leisurely pace and set out on the trail and not even 30 seconds later I ran into Tony, who had started earlier and was taking a nap. We hiked the whole day together. It was absolutely beautiful – we headed into Lost Creek Wilderness and the aspen forests were magical.Lots of water today and a steady climb to 10,600′ before descending a bit to a lovely meadow, the headwaters of the North Fork of Lost Creek. We set up camp early after doing a little more than 9 miles and 2500′ of gain. We had a nice fire – it’s starting to get chilly in the evenings – and chatted. Very cool guy, I’m going for 12ish miles tomorrow, perhaps we will hike together again! The trail and scenery keep getting better. Lots to look forward to.”

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Day 5, 6/28: Segment 4 mile 9 to Segment 5 mile 5.3. ~12 miles, 1100′ gain

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“I think today was technically the easiest so far, but I am starting to feel the effects of hiking every day with 35-40+ pounds on my back. I have strange blisters in places I don’t normally get them, and my feet and ankles hurt a bit. Today was a pretty day for the most part. Hiking out of Long Gulch was nice but, well, long, and there were intermittent storms all day. Later on, we got back into a pine forest and were soon greeted with a view of the Continental Divide and Tenmile range through two boulders – that was a great reminder of why I am here and doing this. 12 miles and 1100 feet of gain today – not bad. I cannot wait for tomorrow afternoon. Seeing Bill, getting more food, and spending some time with him will be so nice. I hope Tony makes it into town and we can meet up again, we make a good team.

We experienced the first true thunderstorm today, being right under it at least. Right as we got to camp it started pouring. There was lightning with a two second thunder delay. It stopped eventually and we were able to enjoy dinner and a nice fire again, but then just after 9 it started raining again and I went into my tent. It has been raining a bit since then. I really hope it stops and dries out by tomorrow so I can have a nice hike to Kenosha Pass and see my love!

Day 6, 6/29: Segment 5 mile 5.3 to Guernsey Creek. 13 miles, 1700′ gain

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“Today was an awesome day – great views of the Divide, fairly easy hiking, and the best afternoon possible! Sandwiches, beers, cookies, and outdoor fun with Bill! Just seeing him and kissing him felt so good. After spending a couple hours together, I headed back onto the trail with a resupply of food. Made it to came where I found Tony, and then we were joined by two other through-hikers who are pretty cool. I made the mistake of trying to wash and dry clothes, which didn’t go well due to a disappointing fire. Now I just have damp, stinky clothes that will still be damp tomorrow. Tomorrow we will cross the divide – will be a tough but rewarding day.”

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Day 7, 6/30: Guernsey Creek to Segment 6 mile 19. ~16 miles, 2600′ gain

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“Today was indeed tough but rewarding! I slept in and left camp at 9:15. I found Tony about 6 miles in and we went up to Georgia Pass, the highest point so far and the first time crossing the Continental Divide. It provided beautiful views of Mount Guyot and the distant Tenmile range. 16 miles today and 2600ft of gain. Certainly difficult, but I did it. My feet are pretty beat up with many unusual blisters. I hope they start healing soon, because for the most part everything else is fine. Hoping tomorrow is an easier day.”

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One thought on “The Colorado Trail – Part 1

  1. Glad you stuck with it after a rough start with the heat and flies. I like the way you took the time to take pictures along the way to document your journey. An 18 mile day is very impressive.

    Like

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